What It Takes To Go Wireless In Harsh Industry - 6 things to consider
What are the success factors within wireless connectivity for industrial applications? What do you need to consider when building your perfect IoT solution, including industrial mesh? Unfortunately, there is no “one connectivity solution fits all” but considering below 6 factors will help you on the way.
When choosing wireless technology for your smart product there are critical design elements that require consideration. Classification, radio disturbances, legislations, certifications and security are just some of the key areas that need to be addressed. There are physical restrictions when it comes to getting the shortest latency, highest throughput and largest data rate at the lowest cost and it is of unparalleled importance to choose the correct solutions for your application.
1. Low power consumption
Can battery powered mesh networks be a competitive advantage for you?
Some wireless connectivity solutions can run on battery powered sensors for years. This is only possible if the wireless connectivity consumes a minimal amount of power by having the radio on the chip in sleep mode as much as possible.
Wireless connectivity solutions that can run on battery powered sensors are usually a huge benefit for retrofitting brown field equipment. The power is usually designed so that it just covers the need from the machine and not allowing any wireless technology to piggyback on the power source. For green field equipment it is possible to decrease the installation cost if the sensors are running on battery, hence the need for wiring is costly and making the system inflexible for changes.
2. Reliability and robustness
Is interference keeping you sleepless at nights?
The reliability of the wireless connectivity is crucial to get a well functioning and power efficient wireless sensor network. If data packets are lost on the way in the network, the packet needs to be re-transmitted which increases the number of data redundancy in the network – congesting the network by resending packets instead of sending new ones. The radio needs to be turned on more often to address all data packets and therefore, directly resulting in an increased power consumption.
3. Firmware over the air updates “FOTA”
Change your software in running mode?
If you plan to update your connectivity technology or application firmware when the products are out in the field, it is worth checking that the selected connectivity technology offers “FOTA”. It is also important to have a FOTA functionality that does not drain the battery if the mesh network runs on battery power. This can cause unnecessary needs to replace the battery just because the FOTA feature was insufficient.
4. Data rate
What amount of data are you going to transmit in your network?
Depending on your specific needs, the wireless connectivity solution to choose may vary. If you want to transmit small data packets with, for instance, temperature values on a regular basis, low power wireless mesh is the perfect choice for you. But, if you want to stream video there will be better technologies than low power wireless mesh.
5. Commissioning and multi-platform support
What is the perfect way to interact with your products?
Interacting wirelessly with your devices via a smartphone is beneficial during, for instance, commissioning. If you don’t need a specially developed tool for commissioning and use your phone instead, it is possible to hand over system installation to a person without knowledge in wireless connectivity.
What size of the network are you going to build?
The complexity in a mesh network increases with the number of nodes. The nodes need to be synced to transmit on the exact same time slot, otherwise the network will sync out. The data flow in the network goes up with more nodes collecting data. Therefore it is important to have an ultra reliability in large mesh networks to avoid data packet re-transmissions.